Why create OCAA?
Why create OCAA?
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased 9.5% from January to November 2020 (11.088 km²), compared to the same period in 2019, according to INPE.¹ The destruction was particularly intense in the public forests, especially those classified as “undesignated”, which cover an area of 50 million hectares.² In addition to the intensive fire season in the region in 2020, the Pantanal region has also been severely affected.
This increase and the repetition, in 2020, of the large fires episodes that marked 2019, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, have attracted the eyes of the world to the Amazon region. The already faded image of Brazil has been increasingly deteriorating in the eyes of civil society, at home and abroad, and the governments of other nations, especially in Europe.³ As a result, trade agreements with developed countries in which Brazil is included (already negotiated or under negotiation) are being questioned by stakeholders.⁴
Demonstrations by foreign investors and buyers, concerned with the advance of deforestation in the Amazon and, more broadly, with the government’s environmental policy, suggest a reaction that could damage the commercial relations in which the country is involved. Also, it can result in investment outflow and boycotts of Brazilian agribusiness products – something that would be potentially disastrous for the national economy, already battered by the pandemic.⁵
This scenario of distrust regarding Brazil’s capacity, however, does not seem to be temporary. If the current rate of socio-environmental degradation, especially in the Amazon, is not reversed, this perception promises to last. And there are two strong reasons for this.
The first is the global understanding that the destruction of the largest rainforest on the planet has serious implications not only for Brazil. For example, threats to the national food production that supplies several other countries can be mentioned.⁶ This is therefore an issue that concerns the global community.
The second is that the environmental and climate agenda has risen significantly in the ranking of public policy priorities, especially in developed countries, and will increasingly become an inescapable component of sectoral and horizontal policies.
This is particularly clear in the case of trade policies, in which preferential trade agreements have increasingly associated, on the one hand, economic-trade objectives and, on the other hand, socio-environmental objectives.
The existence of chapters on trade and sustainable development (or on trade, environment and labour) in recent trade agreements signed by the European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the United States and Canada is the best example of this trend and reflects the need to internalize the socio-environmental issue in international trade discussions.
Not by chance, deforestation in the Amazon and, more broadly, the environmental policy of the Brazilian government, are the critical points when discussing the possibility of ratification and entry into force of the trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union.
This new dynamic requires civil society in Brazil and in other countries to engage in initiatives that seek to contribute to international trade not only taking into account environmental and climate conditions, but also to serve as an instrument for the promotion of sustainable development.
The OCAA – Trade and Environment Observatory in the Amazon – intends to actively take part in this process and put the Amazon at the center of the discussion on the relations between trade and environmental agendas. The goal is to discuss proposals for policies and instruments that advance the convergence between objectives of socio-environmental protection and the necessary increase in production and trading of goods and services from the Amazon region.
The Amazon is a unique economic and environmental asset in the world. The urgency of preserving the world’s largest biological carbon reservoir and the discussion of sustainable alternatives for the production and trade of the economic goods coming from it justify the existence of a platform that, in addition to providing quality technical material, promotes the scientific debate and the engagement of various players in society.